Goose Bumps and Shuttle Launches

Kennedy Space Center -Kaitlyn and Connor - 11-29-13By Judy Berman

Peering into the night sky, we’ve often waited impatiently for that streak of light that means a shuttle is heading into space.

Since we moved to Florida, we’ve watched the launches from Jetty Park and from our back yard. Last weekend, the Space Shuttle Atlantis, which has traveled more than 125 million miles in space, was just a few feet away from us.

Our family went to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex to watch a movie that showed the rocket launch. Smoke swirled around it and, then, began to disperse. The door went up, and what happened next was awe-inspiring.

“That’s when I had goose bumps when I saw how massive the shuttle was,” said Keith, our son-in-law.

This shuttle, after 33 successful missions to space and back, is now the main attraction at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex on Merritt Island, Florida. The $2 billion orbiter is in the “new six-story, $100 million, 90,000-square-foot exhibit that celebrates the people and accomplishments,” according to its website.

Kennedy Space Center23

What was even more impressive was when we talked to people who actually worked on the shuttle.

“(Jean Wright) was one of the women who hand-sewed quilt patterns on the shuttle and used threads that could withstand up to 2,400 degrees,” said our daughter, Danielle.

Wright told about how she helped make those quilted tiles which replaced 7,000 of the heavier tiles, mostly from the top of the shuttle. The quilted tiles made by the “Sew Sisters,” made the shuttle lighter and they were less costly to produce.

Terry White also chatted with the guests. He showed us a square of the material that made up one of the tiles. Our grandchildren, Kaitlyn and Connor, watched along with the rest as he poured water into the tile.

“The cool thing was how the material for the tile could soak up as much water as he poured in, but it still didn’t feel wet,” Danielle said. “It can also withstand high temperatures, but remain cool to the touch.”

Space Shuttle Atlantis launches from KSC

Our grandchildren aren’t hankering to clamber aboard the next shuttle. They say there’s still too much that’s unknown. But they found it thrilling to see the Atlantis, knowing it was in outer space and in orbit.

How about you? Would you be up for a ride to the Space Station or to another planet?

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-14. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider, earth-rider.com, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Earth View From Outer Space  http://www.youtube.comh/watch?v=mve7hRaoH8U 

Photos taken by me or family members at Kennedy Space Center, November 2013:
* Atlantis shuttle and our grands, Kaitlyn and Connor
* our grandson Connor at one of the activity centers at KSC

Space Shuttle Atlantis launches from KSC  – May 14, 2010 (NASA photo) http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/2/2a/Space_Shuttle_Atlantis_launches_from_KSC_on_STS-132_side_view.jpg/600px-Space_Shuttle_Atlantis_launches_from_KSC_on_STS-132_side_view.jpg

The Dark Side of the Moon (Landing)

Some dispute that the U.S. sent a man to the moon. Astronaut Buzz Aldrin is the first man to walk on the moon's surface in 1969

Some dispute that the U.S. sent a man to the moon. Astronaut Buzz Aldrin is the second man to walk on the moon’s surface in 1969

By Judy Berman

Over eight days during July 1969, all eyes were on Apollo 11, when it became the first manned mission to land on the moon.

More than 40 years after this historic event, about 6 percent of Americans still dispute that we ever set foot on the moon. They think it was a plot by the government to generate pride during the space race.

It fulfilled a goal set by President John F. Kennedy in 1961, when he said that we would have a man land on the moon “before this decade is out” and return safely to Earth.

Apollo 11 made its landing on July 20, 1969. Neil Armstrong was the first to walk on the moon on July 21st. Who can ever forget his words as he stepped out on the surface, “That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind”?

Yet, Bill Kaysing, considered to be the father of the moon hoax, said the whole event was staged. I interviewed Kaysing in the late 1970s about his book, “We Never Went to the Moon,” when I worked at WOLF-AM, a radio station in Syracuse, New York.

Kaysing, himself, was not an engineer. He was a technical writer for Rocketdyne, a major aerospace contractor. He left that company before Rocketdyne began work on the Apollo project.

And, yet, his story had legs. Some believe, as Kaysing did, that the film footage was taken in the Nevada desert.

I decided to pick an engineer’s brains on this subject: my Dad. He had worked in the space program in Huntsville, Alabama, and later did rocket program work in Nevada.

Dad had an analytical mind and addressed some of the claims in Kaysing’s book. Among them, Kaysing’s claim about the absence of stars when the astronauts were on the lunar surface photography.

Here’s the scoop from the web site science.howstuffworks:

“The light from the sun hitting the surface of the moon is too bright for any camera to capture something in the distance — it would wash out any light coming from distant stars in the sky. Even if you were standing on the surface of the moon yourself, you would have to block the landscape from your vision to see any notable points of light. This happens for the same reason that stars are harder to see in big cities than in wide-open fields — there’s a lot more light bouncing around from street lamps in the city, so the stars are hidden from view.”

Conspiracy theorists also question how the flag could flap with no wind on the moon, and that the photo had to be a hoax. TV’s Mythbusters blew these theories out of the water. (see videos below)

Mythbusters' Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman

Mythbusters’ Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman

Between July 1969 and Dec. 14, 1972, 12 men landed on the moon. The last astronauts arrived on Apollo 17 – Jack Schmitt and Gene Cernan. Cernan was the last to step off the lunar surface and wrote a book, “The Last Man on the Moon,” about America’s race in space.

“Too many years have passed for me to still be the last man to have walked on the Moon. Somewhere on Earth today is the young girl or boy, the possessor of indomitable will and courage, who will lift that dubious honor from me and take us back where we belong,” Cernan wrote.

I just hope it’s real soon.

.—

Video  – National Geographic – NASA’s newly restored video of the very first moonwalks of the Apollo 11 mission in 1969 http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/news/space-technology-news/1969-moonlanding-vin/

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-13. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider, earth-rider.com, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Photo: Buzz Aldrin – Apollo 11 – on the Moon – Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, lunar module pilot, walks on the surface of the Moon near the leg of the Lunar Module (LM) “Eagle” during the Apollo 11 extravehicular activity (EVA). http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/bb/Aldrin_Apollo_11_%28jha%29.jpg/574px-Aldrin_Apollo_11_%28jha%29.jpg

Photo: Mythbusters, TV program, Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage – Skulls Unlimited Owner, Jay Villemarette and Director of Education, Joey Williams with the Mythbusters Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman at the Discovery Channel’s Young Scientists Challenge 2004. Photo by Skimsta. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d5/Mythbusters2.jpg

Video Clip and story: The Faked Apollo Landings http://www.ufos-aliens.co.uk/cosmicapollo.html

Mythbusters examine the Moon Landing photo hoax http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wym04J_3Ls0

Mythbusters tackle other moon landing hoaxes http://dsc.discovery.com/tv-shows/mythbusters/videos/moon-hoax.htm

How Stuff Works – addressing the hoax claims about no stars in the photos taken on the moon http://science.howstuffworks.com/moon-landing-hoax1.htm

Get Ready for the Apocalypse. Not Again.

An ancient Mayan Calendar, which is made up of 394-periods, called baktuns, predicts that Doomsday is on Dec. 21st.

An ancient Mayan Calendar, which is made up of 394-periods, called baktuns, predicts that Doomsday is on Dec. 21st.

By Judy Berman

Will your end-of-days party be catered?  Or, do you have a safe-cave you plan to retreat to?

There’s no reason to go all Neanderthal on us. You can celebrate the end of the world on Dec. 21st in style in the quaint little village of Bugarach. It’s the only site designated as one that will survive the Apocalypse.

The mountain community of Bugarach, France.

The mountain community of Bugarach, France.

Savvy residents of that French mountain community are offering a quiet retreat for $1,200 a night. You can toast the fiery end of the world with a bottle of “End of the-World” wine.

Should that prediction not pan out. That same bottle of wine will be available, relabeled as “Survival Wine,” at a more reasonable price the following day, according to the Daily Mail Online.

Of course, there’s that pesky rumor that mars this idyllic site. Some believe that the mountain “is the site of a concealed alien base, or even that it contains an underground access to another world,” the Daily Mail Online reports.

The very thought that this Mayan prophecy will come true has caused some folks in Russia to panic. They’re clearing the grocery shelves of matches, kerosene, sugar and candles. They are among those that believe this year’s winter solstice marks the end of a 144,000-day cycle.

This prophecy is based on the ancient Mayan calendar, “when a 5,125-year cycle known as the Long Count in the Mayan calendar supposedly comes to a close,” said a Dec. 1st story in The New York Times.

Some believers are taking this seriously and that worries Leonid Ogul, a doctor and a member of the Russian Parliament’s environmental committee. He’s concerned that all this talk about still another end-of-the world scenario will have a negative affect on some folks’ mental and physical health.

NASA scientist David Morrison has been kept busy by people contacting him for word about the end times.

“One touching letter was simply, ‘My best friend is my little dog. Please tell me when I should put her to sleep so she won’t suffer in the apocalypse.’ ” Morrison said in an interview with KGO-TV in Mountain View, Calif. “I’m disturbed by letters from kids who are afraid. I think that is the worst part of this hoax. And it is a hoax.”

“Morrison is a scientist, not a historian, but he’s done some research, and says the same ancient Mayans who created that calendar also prophesized some events to happen 300 to 500 years from now, meaning even they didn’t think the world was coming to an end,” the report said.

Despite his reassurances, the rumors persist. One prediction is no sooner put to bed than another rises to replace it.

So, what should YOU do if it’s true? If you’re a camera buff, this is the perfect opportunity to catch that once-in-a-lifetime environmental shot in a unique setting. In a video posted below, photographer Dan Havlik offers some tips for picture-taking for the upcoming Apocalypse.

Before I head for the hills, I’ll pass on one of Havlik’s tips. He recommended going to a high place, like a mountain, for the best vantage point. If you’re in a tight spot, confronted by an alien or dragon, your camera equipment can always double as weapons. So, Havlik advises that you be prepared.

And, if you miss this shot, there’ll always be another Apocalypse somewhere down the line. We never seem to run out of them, or of people willing to take advantage of the gullible and innocent.

P.T. Barnum, a 19th-century showman and master of hucksterism, said it best, “Every crowd has a silver lining.”

Just make sure you’re not the one getting fleeced.

Video: Photographer Dan Havlik shares photo tips for the upcoming Apocalypse http://www.imaging-resource.com/news/2012/12/07/hilarious-video-offers-tips-on-how-to-photograph-the-coming-mayan-apocalyps

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-14. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider, earth-rider.com, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Main Photo: Mayan Calendar – An acient Mayan Calendar, which is made up of 394-periods called baktuns, predicts that Doomsday is on Dec. 21st. DailyMail: “The Only Place That Will Survive the Mayan Apocalpyse” http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2242176/Bugarach-Town-set-survive-Mayan-Apocalypse-cracks-open-End-World-wine.html

NASA Scientist David Morrison has a big job. http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/bizarre&id=8900498

Photo: The mountain community of Bugarach. Taken by ArnoLagrange on Jan. 20, 2008 http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/1e/Bugarach_vue_g%C3%A9n%C3%A9rale.jpg/640px-Bugarach_vue_g%C3%A9n%C3%A9rale.jpg

Kaleidoscope Skies

Alaska – Part 1

By Judy Berman

An eerie greenish light filled the skies during our visit to Fairbanks, Alaska. The Northern Lights looks like Walt Disney dumped his paint box from the sky.

One night, upon request, the hotel staff woke my hubby and me up to tell us that the Northern Lights (their scientific name: aurora borealis) was on display. Despite the frigid temps, we hurriedly got dressed and rushed outside.

We weren’t alone as we scanned the skies above our hotel, which was along the Chena River. A greenish hue danced overhead and off to the side. The light show entertained us for about 20 minutes and then it faded from view.

The Northern Lights also has caught the attention of astronauts on the International Space Station. Over a six-week period, they plan to take images of the aurora borealis from orbit.

AuroraMAX project manager Mike Greffen, with the University of Calgary’s astronomy department, is excited about the public outreach aspect of this project, according to a story in the Calgary Herald.

“The idea that we have a camera that is not only useful for scientific purposes, but that people from all across the world can go and log on, and see the state of the northern lights. That’s pretty phenomenal,” Greffen said.

“From a scientific perspective, the images will help with a better understanding of the ionosphere.”

The aurora borealis is described this way: “An intense solar system provides the energy for the light display. These moving bands of color extend from 40 to several hundred miles high. Like neon lights, auroras brighten the night when certain gases are exposed to electrical charges from the sun.”

It also can play havoc with our electrical power and satellites in space, according to “Everyday Mysteries,” fun science facts from the Library of Congress.

“The earliest known account of northern lights appears to be from a Babylonian clay tablet from observations made by the official astronomers of King Nebuchadnezzar II, 568/567 B.C.,” states “Everyday Mysteries.”

The legends surrounding the sightings have struck fear into the hearts of some ancient cultures. For me, I was confused the first time my Mom showed me the Northern Lights.

“How can she see the Northern Lights from here?” I thought as we stood outside our home in North Syracuse, N.Y. Despite working on my Astronomy badge for Girl Scouts at the time, I thought she was referring to a mall by the same name about three miles from our home. Imagine my chagrin when I finally made the connection.

Years later, that first sighting was my motivation for making the trek to Alaska many Marches ago. The Northern Lights is visible most nights of the year in Alaska or Greenland. But the best time for viewing in Alaska is late-fall to early-spring.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-14. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider, earth-rider.com, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Photo credit: EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska– The aurora borealis, or Northern Lights, shines above Bear Lake

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Polarlicht-chm.jpg

Calgary Herald story on the astronauts aboard the Space Station to take photos of the Northern Lights from above:

http://www.calgaryherald.com/technology/Space+station+photos+offer+novel+view+northern+lights/6095448/story.html